Salvation Belongs to Jehovah
“The true God is for us a God of saving acts.”—PSALM 68:20.
1, 2. (a) Why can we say that Jehovah is the Source of salvation? (b) How would you explain Proverbs 21:31?
JEHOVAH is the Savior of humans who love him. (Isaiah 43:11) Israel’s renowned King David knew this from personal experience, and he wholeheartedly sang: “Salvation belongs to Jehovah.” (Psalm 3:8) The prophet Jonah used the same words in fervent prayer while in the belly of the great fish.—Jonah 2:9.
2 David’s son Solomon also knew that Jehovah is the Source of salvation, for he said: “The horse is something prepared for the day of battle, but salvation belongs to Jehovah.” (Proverbs 21:31) In the ancient Middle East, oxen pulled the plow, asses carried burdens, people rode on mules, and horses were used in warfare. Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, however, God commanded that their future king “should not increase horses for himself.” (Deuteronomy 17:16) War horses would not be needed because Jehovah would save his people.
3. What questions merit our consideration?
3 The Sovereign Lord Jehovah is “a God of saving acts.” (Psalm 68:20) What an encouraging thought! But what “saving acts” has Jehovah performed? And whom has he saved?
Jehovah Saves the Upright
4. How do we know that Jehovah saves godly people?
4 All those pursuing an upright course as God’s dedicated servants can draw comfort from the apostle Peter’s words: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” Proving this point, Peter said that God “did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.”—2 Peter 2:5, 9.
5. Under what conditions did Noah serve as “a preacher of righteousness”?
5 Imagine yourself amid conditions in Noah’s day. Materialized demons are on earth. The offspring of these disobedient angels treat people cruelly, and ‘the earth is filled with violence.’ (Genesis 6:1-12) However, Noah cannot be bullied into forsaking Jehovah’s service. Instead, he is “a preacher of righteousness.” He and his family build an ark, never doubting that wickedness will be eliminated in their lifetime. Noah’s faith condemns that world. (Hebrews 11:7) Present-day conditions parallel those of Noah’s day, marking these as the last days of this wicked system of things. (Matthew 24:37-39; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) Like Noah, then, will you prove faithful as a preacher of righteousness serving along with God’s people as you await the salvation of Jehovah?
6. How does 2 Peter 2:7, 8 prove that Jehovah saves the upright?
6 Peter provides further evidence that Jehovah saves the upright. The apostle says: “[God] delivered righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct—for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds.” (2 Peter 2:7, 8; Genesis 19:1-29) Sexual immorality has become a way of life for millions in these last days. Like Lot, are you ‘greatly distressed by the indulgence in loose conduct’ on the part of so many today? If you are, and if you are practicing righteousness, you may be among those saved by Jehovah when this wicked system is brought to its end.
Jehovah Saves His People From Oppressors
7. How do Jehovah’s dealings with the Israelites in Egypt prove that he delivers his people from oppression?
7 As long as this old system lasts, Jehovah’s servants will experience persecution and enemy oppression. But they can be confident that Jehovah will deliver them, for he has saved his oppressed people in the past. Suppose you were an Israelite suffering oppression at the hands of the Egyptians of Moses’ day. (Exodus 1:1-14; 6:8) God strikes Egypt with one plague after another. (Exodus 8:5–10:29) When the death-dealing tenth plague claims the lives of the Egyptian firstborn, Pharaoh allows Israel to depart but later mobilizes his forces and speeds after them. Soon, however, he and his men are destroyed in the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:23-28) You join Moses and all Israel in this song: “Jehovah is a manly person of war. Jehovah is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his military forces he has cast into the sea, and the choice of his warriors have been sunk in the Red Sea. The surging waters proceeded to cover them; down they went into the depths like a stone.” (Exodus 15:3-5) Similar disaster awaits all oppressors of God’s people in these last days.
8, 9. From the book of Judges, give an example proving that Jehovah saves his people from oppressors.
8 For years after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, judges administered justice among them. The people sometimes suffered under foreign oppression, yet God used faithful judges to deliver them. Though we may similarly ‘groan because of oppressors and those shoving us around,’ Jehovah will also save us as his loyal servants. (Judges 2:16-18; 3:9, 15) In fact, the Bible book of Judges gives us assurance of this and of the greater salvation God will provide by means of his appointed Judge, Jesus Christ.
9 Let us return to the days of Judge Barak. Because of false worship and divine disapproval, the Israelites have experienced 20 years of harsh domination by Canaanite King Jabin. Sisera is the chief of the large Canaanite military host. But, ‘a shield cannot be seen, nor a lance, among forty thousand in Israel,’ although the nation may number some four million. (Judges 5:6-8) The Israelites repentantly cry out to Jehovah. As directed by God through the prophetess Deborah, Barak assembles 10,000 men on Mount Tabor, and Jehovah draws the enemy up the valley below lofty Tabor. Thundering across the plain and Kishon’s dry riverbed come Sisera’s legions and 900 war chariots. But a torrential downpour swells the Kishon with overwhelming floodwaters. As Barak and his men march down Mount Tabor under cover of the storm, they witness the havoc wrought by Jehovah’s unleashed fury. Barak’s men pick off the terrified, fleeing Canaanites, and none escape. What a warning for our oppressors who presume to fight against God!—Judges 4:3-16; 5:19-22.
10. Why can we be sure that God will save his present-day servants from all their oppressors?
10 Jehovah will save his present-day servants from all their oppressive foes, just as he saved God-fearing Israel in times of peril. (Isaiah 43:3; Jeremiah 14:8) God delivered David “out of the palm of all his enemies.” (2 Samuel 22:1-3) So even if we are oppressed or persecuted as Jehovah’s people, let us be courageous, for his Messianic King will free us from oppression. Yes, “the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul.” (Psalm 72:13, 14) That redemption is near indeed.
God Saves Those Who Trust in Him
11. What example of reliance on Jehovah did young David provide?
11 To see the salvation of Jehovah, we must courageously trust in him. David displayed courageous reliance on God when he went out to meet the giant Goliath. Imagine that towering Philistine standing before young David, who calls out: “You are coming to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day Jehovah will surrender you into my hand, and I shall certainly strike you down and remove your head off you; and I shall certainly give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines this day to the fowls of the heavens and to the wild beasts of the earth; and people of all the earth will know that there exists a God belonging to Israel. And all this congregation will know that neither with sword nor with spear does Jehovah save, because to Jehovah belongs the battle.” Goliath is soon dead, and the Philistines are routed. Clearly, Jehovah saved his people.—1 Samuel 17:45-54.
12. Why may it be helpful to remember David’s mighty man Eleazar?
12 When facing persecutors, we may need to “muster up courage” and trust in God more fully. (Isaiah 46:8-13; Proverbs 3:5, 6) Note this incident at a place named Pas-dammim. Israel has retreated before the Philistine forces. But fear does not immobilize Eleazar, one of David’s three outstanding mighty men. He takes his stand in a field of barley and single-handedly strikes down the Philistines with the sword. Thus ‘Jehovah saves Israel with a great salvation.’ (1 Chronicles 11:12-14; 2 Samuel 23:9, 10) Nobody expects us to fight off a military force single-handedly. Yet, we may at times be alone and pressured by enemies. Will we prayerfully rely on Jehovah, the God of saving acts? Will we seek his help so as to avoid betraying our fellow believers to persecutors?
Jehovah Saves Integrity Keepers
13. Why was it difficult to maintain integrity to God in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel?
13 To experience the salvation of Jehovah, we must maintain integrity to him at all costs. God’s people of ancient times experienced various trials. Think of what you may have faced if you had lived in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. Rehoboam’s harshness had prompted the ten tribes to withdraw support from him and to form the northern kingdom of Israel. (2 Chronicles 10:16, 17; 11:13, 14) Of its many kings, Jehu was the best, but even he ‘did not walk in Jehovah’s law with all his heart.’ (2 Kings 10:30, 31) Nevertheless, the ten-tribe kingdom had its integrity keepers. (1 Kings 19:18) They exercised faith in God, and he proved to be with them. Despite tests of your faith, are you maintaining integrity to Jehovah?
14. What salvation did Jehovah perform in the days of King Hezekiah, and what led to the Babylonian conquest of Judah?
14 Widespread disregard for God’s Law led to calamity for the kingdom of Israel. When the Assyrians conquered it in 740 B.C.E., individuals from its ten tribes undoubtedly fled to the two-tribe kingdom of Judah, where they could worship Jehovah at his temple. Four of Judah’s 19 kings of David’s line—Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah—were outstanding in their devotion to God. In the days of integrity-keeping Hezekiah, the Assyrians came against Judah with a mighty army. In answer to Hezekiah’s petitions, God used just one angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians in a single night, thus giving salvation to His worshipers! (Isaiah 37:36-38) Later, the failure of the people to keep the Law and to heed the warnings of God’s prophets led to the Babylonian conquest of Judah and the destruction of its capital, Jerusalem, and the temple in 607 B.C.E.
15. Why was endurance needed by Jewish exiles in Babylon, and how did Jehovah eventually effect a deliverance?
15 Endurance was needed by Jewish exiles in order to maintain integrity to God while in Babylonian captivity for some 70 sad years. (Psalm 137:1-6) One noteworthy integrity keeper was the prophet Daniel. (Daniel 1:1-7; 9:1-3) Imagine his joy when the decree of Persian King Cyrus went into effect in 537 B.C.E., allowing the Jews to return to Judah to rebuild the temple! (Ezra 1:1-4) Daniel and others had endured for years, but they finally saw Babylon’s overthrow and the deliverance of Jehovah’s people. This should help us to display endurance while we await the destruction of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion.—Revelation 18:1-5.
Jehovah Always Saves His People
16. What salvation did God bring about in the days of Queen Esther?
16 Jehovah always saves his people when they are faithful to his name. (1 Samuel 12:22; Isaiah 43:10-12) Step back to the days of Queen Esther—the fifth century B.C.E. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) has appointed Haman as prime minister. Enraged by the refusal of Mordecai the Jew to bow down to him, Haman plots to destroy him and all the Jews in the Persian Empire. He paints them as lawbreakers, adds an economic inducement, and is allowed to use the king’s signet ring to seal a document decreeing their extermination. Esther courageously reveals her Jewish ancestry to the king and exposes Haman’s murderous plot. Haman is soon hanging on the very stake he prepared for Mordecai’s execution. Mordecai is made prime minister, with authorization to allow the Jews to defend themselves. They win a great victory over their enemies. (Esther 3:1–9:19) This event should strengthen our faith that Jehovah will perform saving acts in behalf of his obedient present-day servants.
17. How did obedience play a role in the deliverance of first-century Jewish Christians living in Judea?
17 Another reason why God saves his people is that they obey him and his Son. Put yourself in the place of Jesus’ first-century Jewish disciples. He tells them: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.” (Luke 21:20-22) Years pass, and you wonder when these words will be fulfilled. Then comes a Jewish revolt in 66 C.E. Roman forces under Cestius Gallus surround Jerusalem and make a thrust up to the temple walls. Suddenly, the Romans withdraw for no apparent reason. What will Jewish Christians do? In his Ecclesiastical History (Book III, chapter V, 3), Eusebius says that they fled from Jerusalem and Judea. They were spared because they obeyed Jesus’ prophetic warning. Are you as quick to comply with Scriptural guidance provided through “the faithful steward” appointed over all of Jesus’ “belongings”?—Luke 12:42-44.
Salvation to Everlasting Life
18, 19. (a) What salvation did Jesus’ death make possible, and for whom? (b) What was the apostle Paul determined to do?
18 Heeding Jesus’ warning saved the lives of Jewish Christians in Judea. But Jesus’ death makes salvation to eternal life possible for “all sorts of men.” (1 Timothy 4:10) Mankind’s need for a ransom arose when Adam sinned, thus losing life for himself and selling the human race into slavery to sin and death. (Romans 5:12-19) The animal sacrifices offered under the Mosaic Law were only a token covering for sin. (Hebrews 10:1-4) Since Jesus did not have a human father and God’s holy spirit evidently ‘overshadowed’ Mary from the time she conceived until Jesus’ birth, he was born free from any inheritance of sin or imperfection. (Luke 1:35; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18, 19) When Jesus died as a perfect integrity keeper, he offered his own perfect life to repurchase and emancipate mankind. (Hebrews 2:14, 15) Christ thus “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Not all will avail themselves of this provision for salvation, but God approves the application of its benefits to those who accept it in faith.
19 By presenting the value of his ransom sacrifice to God in heaven, Christ repurchased Adam’s offspring. (Hebrews 9:24) Jesus thus gains a Bride, formed of his 144,000 anointed followers raised to heavenly life. (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 14:3, 4; 21:9) He also becomes an “Eternal Father” to those accepting his sacrifice and receiving everlasting earthly life. (Isaiah 9:6, 7; 1 John 2:1, 2) What a loving arrangement! Paul’s appreciation for it is evident in his second inspired letter to the Christians in Corinth, as the next article will show. In fact, Paul was determined to let nothing prevent him from helping people to avail themselves of Jehovah’s wonderful provision for salvation to everlasting life.
How Would You Answer?
□ What Scriptural proof is there that God saves his upright people?
□ How do we know that Jehovah saves those who trust in him and maintain their integrity?
□ What provision has God made for salvation to everlasting life?
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David trusted in Jehovah, the “God of saving acts.” Do you?
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Jehovah always saves his people, as he proved in Queen Esther’s day